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How CSPs can overcome storage challenges in a virtualised environment

The amount of data being produced is rising rapidly and storing this is becoming ever more important. Virtualisation has opened up different options when it comes to the storing of this data and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are now playing a big part in handling it.

This can be seen by the large amount of unpredictable and rapidly expanding virtualised workloads that are dealt with by CSPs all over the world on a daily basis. This significant level of growth can be handled only if CSPs can contain its complexities and curb its unpredictability.

It remains a challenge for CSPs to identify the pains and priorities that define their businesses over a period of time. With this in mind, we surveyed 78 CSPs to learn more about the issues that they face. The research, and subsequent report, focused on storage because it is central to the success of CSPs and can help them to thrive if they utilise it correctly.

Virtualisation on the increase

The research revealed that 75 per cent of respondents have virtualised over 80 per cent of their storage environments. The fastest-growing CSPs actively use storage to unlock new efficiencies and deliver differentiated services to their customers. To help them stay ahead of the game and grow their businesses, they should be working towards the following:

1. Align storage with virtualisation

While conventional storage is highly effective for physical workloads, LUN and volume-based storage architectures have little benefit to offer a highly virtualised footprint. CSPs cannot afford to lose time shuffling virtual machines (VMs) between LUNs and they cannot have low ceilings imposed on their ability to manage a large and growing number of VMs. That's why they need storage specifically built for virtualisation that can offer density and simple management.

2. Compete on differentiated services

Given the heavy competition in cloud services, CSPs need to stand apart (and expand margins) by offering highly differentiated services. That's often accomplished by procuring different tiers of storage. Looking ahead, CSPs need to build on storage that allows them to isolate virtualised applications and set different Quality of Service (QoS) tiers on a single device. That way they can help their customers step up to higher-revenue services and guarantee the performance of customer applications.

3. Think manageability

According to the report, CSPs cite performance as their biggest pain point, which makes sense: above all, they want to provide the best possible services to their customer base. But poor application and VM manageability drastically hinder storage performance - not to mention the CSP's bottom line. CSPs don't need more boxes - they need greater automation and better troubleshooting visibility in order to scale profitably.

Is VM-aware storage the solution?

With this in mind, CSPs need to consider a VM-aware storage solution because it will make it easier for CSPs to purchase and grow, while offering customers guaranteed high performance, transparent VM-level analytics and differentiated services.

CSPs require reliable, scalable and high-performance storage to power their cloud infrastructures and they need to offer differentiated services to stand out in a competitive marketplace. They also have to acquire the right enabling solutions with flexible terms that allow them to grow at their own pace. No wonder that, for many CSPs, selecting storage can be a make-or-break business decision.

Doug Rich,VP EMEA at Tintri